“You must be holy.”—LEV. 11:45.
1. How can the book of Leviticus help us?
IN THE book of Leviticus, holiness is referred to more often than in any other book of the Bible. Since this quality is a requirement for all genuine worshippers of Jehovah, understanding and appreciating Leviticus will help us to prove ourselves holy.
2. What are some features of Leviticus?
2 The book of Leviticus, written by the prophet Moses, is part of “all Scripture” that is beneficial for teaching. (2 Tim. 3:16) Jehovah’s name appears an average of ten times in each chapter of the book. Getting the sense of Leviticus will strengthen us to avoid doing anything that would bring reproach on the divine name. (Lev. 22:32) The book’s frequent use of the words “I am Jehovah” should remind us to obey God. In this article and the next, let us enjoy some sparkling gems found in Leviticus, a gift from God that helps us to engage in holy worship.
3, 4. What did the washing of Aaron and his sons represent? (See opening image.)
3 Read Leviticus 8:5, 6. Jehovah selected Aaron to serve as Israel’s high priest, and his sons were to serve as priests in behalf of the nation. Aaron represents Jesus Christ and Aaron’s sons represent Jesus’ anointed followers. So did the washing of Aaron represent a cleansing of Jesus? No, for Jesus was sinless and “without blemish,” thus having no need for cleansing. (Heb. 7:26; 9:14) However, Aaron’s washed condition does point to Jesus’ clean and righteous state. What, then, does the washing of Aaron’s sons represent?
4 The washing of Aaron’s sons prefigured the cleansing of those selected to be members of the heavenly priesthood. Was the baptism of the anointed connected with this cleansing of Aaron’s sons? No, baptism does not wash away sins; rather, it symbolizes that a person has made an unconditional dedication to Jehovah God. The washing of the anointed is accomplished “by means of the word,” and this requires that they wholeheartedly apply Christ’s teachings in their lives. (Eph. 5:25-27) They are thus sanctified and cleansed. But what about the “other sheep”?—John 10:16.
5. Why can it be said that the other sheep are cleansed by means of God’s Word?
5 Aaron’s sons did not represent the “great crowd” of Jesus’ other sheep. (Rev. 7:9) So are such baptized individuals also made holy and cleansed by means of God’s Word? Yes, they are! When those with the earthly hope read what the Bible says about the importance and effectiveness of Jesus’ shed blood, they put faith in these words and render “sacred service day and night.” (Rev. 7:13-15) The effect of the continual cleansing of the anointed and the other sheep is evident as they ‘maintain fine conduct.’ (1 Pet. 2:12) How pleased Jehovah must be as he observes the cleanness and the unity of the anointed and the other sheep, who listen to and loyally follow their Shepherd, Jesus!
6. What self-examination would be beneficial?
6 The requirement that Israel’s priesthood be physically clean has real meaning for Jehovah’s people today. Those with whom we study the Bible often notice that our places of worship are clean and also how neat and well-dressed we are. Yet, the cleanness of the priesthood helps us to realize that anyone who ascends the elevated mountain of Jehovah’s worship must have “a pure heart.” (Read Psalm 24:3, 4; Isa. 2:2, 3.) Our sacred service to God must be rendered with cleansed minds and hearts as well as with clean bodies. This calls for frequent self-examination, after which some may need to make significant changes so that they can be holy. (2 Cor. 13:5) For instance, a baptized person who deliberately views pornography should ask himself, ‘Am I proving myself holy?’ Then he ought to get help to end that vile practice.—Jas. 5:14.
PROVE YOURSELVES HOLY BY BEING OBEDIENT
7. In line with Leviticus 8:22-24, what example did Jesus set?
7 When Israel’s priesthood was installed, a ram’s blood was applied to the right ear, thumb, and big toe of High Priest Aaron and his sons. (Read Leviticus 8:22-24.) This use of blood signified that the priests would obediently do their best to carry out their duties. Similarly, High Priest Jesus set a perfect example for anointed ones and the other sheep. His ear was attuned to God’s guidance. Jesus’ hands were used in carrying out Jehovah’s will, and his feet never strayed from a holy course.—John 4:31-34.
8. What must all of Jehovah’s worshippers do?
8 Anointed Christians and Jesus’ other sheep must follow the integrity-keeping course of their High Priest. All worshippers of Jehovah must obediently comply with the directives found in God’s Word and thereby avoid grieving his spirit. (Eph. 4:30) They must ‘make straight paths for their feet.’—Heb. 12:13.
9. How did three brothers who have worked closely with members of the Governing Body express themselves, and how can their statements help you to continue to prove yourself holy?
9 Consider the heartfelt expressions of three brothers who have the earthly hope and who for decades have worked closely with members of the Governing Body. One commented: “While this has indeed been a unique privilege of service, the close association has from time to time revealed that, although spirit anointed, these brothers are imperfect. Yet, one of my goals over the years has been to be obedient to those taking the lead.” The second brother stated: “Such scriptures as 2 Corinthians 10:5, about ‘obedience to Christ,’ have helped me to be obedient and cooperate with those taking the lead. This is obedience from the heart.” The third brother said: “Loving what Jehovah loves and hating what he hates, as well as constantly seeking his guidance and doing what pleases him, means obedience to his organization and to those he is using to advance his purpose for the earth.” This brother had learned that Nathan Knorr, who became a member of the Governing Body, readily accepted points in the 1925 Watch Tower article “Birth of the Nation,” even though some others questioned them. Such obedience deeply impressed the brother. Pondering over the words of the three men just quoted can help you prove yourself holy by being obedient.
HOLY OBEDIENCE TO GOD’S LAW ON BLOOD
10. How important is it that we obey God’s law on blood?
10 Read Leviticus 17:10. Jehovah commanded the Israelites not to eat “any sort of blood.” Abstaining from blood—animal or human—is a Christian requirement as well. (Acts 15:28, 29) We shudder at the very thought of having God ‘set his face against us’ and cut us off from his congregation. We love him and want to obey him. Even when confronted with a life-threatening situation, we are determined not to cave in to the pleas and demands of those who do not know Jehovah and who do not care to obey him. Yes, we expect to be ridiculed for abstaining from blood, but we choose to be obedient to God. (Jude 17, 18) What view on this subject will strengthen us to “be firmly resolved” not to eat blood or accept a blood transfusion?—Deut. 12:23.
11. Why can we say that the annual Atonement Day was not mere ritual?
11 The use of animal blood by ancient Israel’s high priest on the annual Atonement Day helps us to understand God’s view of blood. Blood was reserved for special use. It was to make atonement for the sins of those seeking Jehovah’s forgiveness. The blood of the bull and the goat was to be spattered toward and before the cover of the ark of the covenant. (Lev. 16:14, 15, 19) This action opened the way for Jehovah to forgive the sins of the Israelites. In addition, Jehovah decreed that if a man killed an animal for food, he was to pour out its blood and cover it with dust, “for the life of every sort of flesh is its blood.” (Lev. 17:11-14) Was all of this unimportant ritual? No. The use of blood on Atonement Day, as well as the command to pour the blood on the ground, is in harmony with Jehovah’s earlier command to Noah and his descendants concerning blood. (Gen. 9:3-6) Jehovah God had prohibited the consuming of blood to sustain life. What does this mean for Christians?
12. How does Paul’s letter to the Hebrew Christians connect blood with forgiveness?
12 When the apostle Paul wrote to the Hebrew Christians about the cleansing power of blood, he explained: “According to the Law nearly all things are cleansed with blood, and unless blood is poured out no forgiveness takes place.” (Heb. 9:22) Paul also pointed out that animal sacrifices, though of some value, only reminded the Israelites that they were sinners and that they needed something more in order to take sins away completely. Yes, the Law was “a shadow of the good things to come, but not the very substance of the things.” (Heb. 10:1-4) How would forgiveness of sins become possible?
13. How do you feel about the fact that Jesus offered the value of his blood to Jehovah?
13 Read Ephesians 1:7. The sacrificial death of Jesus Christ, who willingly ‘handed himself over for us,’ has profound meaning for all who love him and his Father. (Gal. 2:20) Nonetheless, it was what Jesus did after his death and resurrection that truly released us, making forgiveness of our sins possible. Jesus fulfilled what was foreshadowed in the Mosaic Law on the Day of Atonement. On that day, the high priest took some of the blood of the sacrificial animals into the Most Holy of the tabernacle, and later into Solomon’s temple, and presented it before God, as if in his presence. (Lev. 16:11-15) In like manner, Jesus entered heaven itself with the value of his human blood and presented it to Jehovah. (Heb. 9:6, 7, 11-14, 24-28) How grateful we are that we have our sins forgiven and our consciences cleansed because we exercise faith in the blood of Jesus!
14, 15. Why is it important to understand and obey Jehovah’s law regarding blood?
14 Are you now in a better position to understand why Jehovah commands us not to eat “any sort of blood”? (Lev. 17:10) Do you grasp the reason why God considers blood to be sacred? He essentially views blood as equivalent to life. (Gen. 9:4) Do you agree that we should accept God’s view of blood and obey his command to abstain from it? The only way any of us can have peace with God is to have faith in Jesus’ ransom sacrifice and appreciate that blood has special meaning to our Creator.—Col. 1:19, 20.
15 Any one of us could suddenly find ourselves facing the blood issue. Or a family member or dear friend could unexpectedly be confronted with the issue of whether to accept a blood transfusion or not. During such a crisis, decisions also need to be made regarding blood fractions and medical procedures. Therefore, it is very important to do research and prepare for a possible emergency. Along with prayer, such measures will help us to take a firm stand and avoid compromising on the matter. Surely we do not want to sadden Jehovah’s heart by accepting something that his Word condemns! Many medical professionals and other advocates of blood transfusion appeal to people to donate blood in hopes of saving lives. However, Jehovah’s holy people acknowledge that the Creator has the right to say how blood is to be treated. To him, “any sort of blood” is sacred. We must be determined to obey his law on blood. By our holy conduct, we prove to him that we deeply appreciate the lifesaving power of Jesus’ blood—the only blood that makes possible the forgiveness of sin and everlasting life.—John 3:16.
WHY JEHOVAH EXPECTS US TO BE HOLY
16. Why must Jehovah’s people be holy?
16 When God was delivering the Israelites from Egyptian slavery, they were told: “I am Jehovah, who is leading you up out of the land of Egypt to prove myself God to you, and you must be holy, because I am holy.” (Lev. 11:45) Holiness was expected of the people of Israel because Jehovah is holy. As Jehovah’s Witnesses, we too must be holy. The book of Leviticus leaves no doubt about that.
17. How do you feel now about the Bible book of Leviticus?
17 Our consideration of certain parts of Leviticus has surely been beneficial. Very likely, this study has enhanced your appreciation for this inspired book of the Bible. Meditating on some of the priceless information found in Leviticus has undoubtedly increased your understanding of reasons why we must be holy. However, what other spiritual gems await us in this portion of God’s inspired Word? What else can we learn from it concerning the rendering of holy service to Jehovah? We will consider these matters in the next article.